France’s Dassault Systemes is helping some of the most exciting US tech companies around build the future.
“We serve the most prestigious big brands in each sector,” CEO Bernard Charles told BI this week, “but our growth is coming from the new players.
“Of course, the new players are not big players day one. Joby [Aviation, a Silicon Valley startup building electric planes], they have I think 60 people. But we are there building the future with them and I like that. That provides for the big corporate companies who at some point in time say wow, we need to do that too.”
And when they do, Dassault will have the expertise to serve them. A bullish JPMorgan note on the company released this week says Dassault is a good long term bet as “one of the leaders of product and vision that will drive the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”” — a world of robots and artificial intelligence.
Dassault is one of the companies that is making this new robotic and mechanical revolution possible by bringing down the cost of development by an order of magnitude. Instead of building a costly prototype car and refining over and over again, engineers at Tesla or Faraday Future engineers can just model new vehicles with an incredible degree of accuracy using Dassault’s programmes.
Charles was talking to BI after Dassault announced first-quarter results this week, with revenue up 6% to €693.5 million (£541.6 million, $780.1 million). Dassault, valued at €18 billion (£14 billion, $20.3 billion), has over 200,000 customers across 12 industries around the world.
“We are the world leader in what we call 3D mock-up,” Charles says. “The Tesla car is all designed with our software. Of the civil aircrafts around today, 95% are designed and produced with Dassault Systemes software.”
It’s players like Tesla that Charles is most excited by. He says: “Elon Musk, what they have been doing with Tesla, when they started it they adopted our platform for design management in a big way and also for power management.
“They are taking a very different approach because they understand high-tech. They are taking it from a high-tech mindset. That’s what makes our partnership with them so exciting. Faraday Futures, same story.
Charles adds: “It’s just a crazy sector we are now seeing teenagers doing drones and they use our solutions to do it in the Fab Labs. There are almost 1,000 Fab Labs in the world. We are in the 1,000 Fab Labs for kids.”
Fab Labs are fabrication laboratories, small-scale workshops where amateur engineers can build robots and other electronic systems.
Dassault Systemes also sees great growth potential from virtual reality. Charles says: “At CES [Consumer Electronics Show, a big gadget trade show in the US] we revealed an amazing design experience using our solution with HTC Vive. We are working very closely with Microsoft on HoloLens and of course taking advantage of Oculus.
“HoloLens and HTC Vive are really going to transform things in a big way. It’s not only about virtual reality, it’s about augmented reality, it’s about my life I know expanded. Augmented reality is more difficult to do than virtual reality.
Augmented reality is where projections are overlayed on the environment around you, blending virtual reality with actual reality. A good example is Magic Leap, the mysterious startup backed by Google.
While VR and AR are both pretty new to the consumer, Charles points out that VR, in particular, is actually a pretty well-established market that Dassault has a strong track record in.
He says: “In fact, for the last 25 years we have been doing it first at very secret programmes then substantive programmes for automotive makers. The highest number of VR rooms in the world are at Toyota and P&G. At P&G they do consumer tests using VR.
“But now what is happening is consumerizationn. It’s becoming affordable with Oculus Rift and HTC vibe for consumers. Five years ago, a VR room would cost $1 million now you can do it with a $500 device. For those devices, 3D content, high-quality 3D content is necessary. We produce that basically. In short, it is very important.”